78046 - History of Contemporary Architecture (1)

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2018/2019

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course students will:

- know the general outline of the history of contemporary architecture;

- recognize, historically contextualize and critically evaluate the major architectures of the contemporary age;

- know the major formal and constructive aspects of the works considered;

- know how to connect architecture with other art disciplines.

Course contents

This course intends to introduce students to the knowledge of contemporary architecture by analyzing significant works, personalities and issues. The study of the works will focus on the analysis of some topics such as pattern and ornament, polychrome and coating, the questions of truth and nature of materials, the role and forms of structure, and the configuration of space. This course will also deal with works by artists whose creative process has contributed to focus on concepts often decisive for architecture.

By the end of this course, students will be able to evaluate architectures considering the connection between idea, conception, form and materials, and to understand the cultural, technical and artistic issues related to their realization. Studying the various architectural experiences will allow students to deal with some issues that may suggest their initiating personal research.

Course contents

  • Polychromic architecture systems: from Quatremère de Quincy to Jakob Ignaz Hittorff
  • From the principle of polychrome to the coating principle: Gottfried Semper
  • Construction and structure systems: Eugène-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc
  • Chicago School Architecture: from the frame to the curtain wall
  • Louis Henri Sullivan: the symbolic function of the ornament
  • Frank Lloyd Wright: the enclosure of the space
  • Otto Wagner, Joseph Maria Olbrich, Josef Hoffmann, Josef Plečnik: order and truth of the coating
  • Adolf Loos, from the law of coating to Raumplan
  • Auguste Perret, order and truth of the structure
  • Mies van der Rohe: search for absolute structure
  • From the avant-garde to the Bauhaus
  • Le Corbusier, from the ornamental composition to the "espace indicible"
  • Radical architectures


Basic texts (required):

- G. Fanelli, R. Gargiani, Il principio del rivestimento. Prolegomena a una storia dell'architettura contemporanea, Laterza, Roma-Bari, 1994

For further information (optional):

- W. J. R. Curtis, L'architettura moderna dal 1900, Phaidon, London, 2006 (Parte 1; Parte 2; Parte 3)

Essays (required - essays available in AMS Campus)

M. Cometa, L’architettura italiana tra policromia e storicismo, in Id., Il Romanzo dell’Architettura. La Sicilia e il Grand Tour nell’età di Goethe, Roma-Bari, Laterza, 1999, pp. 299-325 

B. Lampariello, Il “discorso per immagini” di Superstudio: dal Monumento Continuo alla Supersuperficie, 1968-1971, in “ArcHistor”, 2016, n. 5, pp. 106-136

A. Rosellini, Oltre il «béton brut»: Le Corbusier e la «nouvelle stéréotomie», in Arte e Architettura. Le cornici della Storia, Milano, Bruno Mondadori Editore, 2007, pp. 231-258

A. Rosellini, Sculptures moulées di Le Corbusier, in Quando è scultura, Milano, Et Al., 2010, pp. 121-132 

A. Rosellini, La Ville Contemporaine di Le Corbusier e Pierre Jeanneret, o del paesaggio svizzero sublimato in metropoli, in La Cittа Nuova. Oltre Sant’Elia. Cento anni di visioni urbane, Milano, Silvana Editoriale, 2013, pp. 67-79

A. Rosellini, Unité d’Habitation in Marseille - Experimental Artistic Device, in Ruth Baumeister, What Moves Us? Le Corbusier and Asger Jorn in Art and Architecture, Zurich, Scheidegger & Spiess, 2015, pp. 38-45

The bibliography will be integrated by students for the preparation of the final report.

The texts for the examination are the same for attending and non-attending students

Teaching methods


Assessment methods

1. Written report

2. Oral examination on the report, the topics discussed during the course and the contents of the bibliography 

1. Written report (attending and non-attending students)

A week before the examination, each student shall submit a written report, accompanied by images, on a topic a subject chosen from the book G. Fanelli, R. Gargiani, Il principio del rivestimento. Prolegomena a una storia dell'architettura contemporanea (text length: minimum 10,000 bars, spaces included, any number of images, each image must be accompanied by a caption. The report must be delivered in digital format via e-mail).

They also will be assessed the connection between text and image and the pagination.

The structure of the report shall consist of:

  • Introduction (summary description of the work and its purpose, presentation of the topic chosen)
  • Central body (subject development), subdivided into paragraphs, if necessary
  • Conclusions (concluding considerations clarifying the reflections and summarizing the work)
  • Bibliography

The text shall include footnotes.

In preparing the report, please refer to the EDITING RULES for the preparation of the FINAL REPORT

2. Oral examination (attending and non-attending students)

To pass the oral examination, students are required to demonstrate that they have achieved a critical knowledge of the topics treated during the course, the bibliography and the architectures of the period dealt with. The analysis shall not be limited to the formal aspects of individual works; students are expected to break down the architectures, showing their understanding of all the aspects related to the central topics of the course and the aesthetic and formal reasons that guided certain architectural choices.

It will be assessed as excellent the performance of those students achieving an organic vision of the course contents, the use of a proper specific language, originality of reflection and familiarity with the tools of architecture analyze. It will be assessed as discrete the performance of those students showing mostly mechanical or mnemonic knowledge of the subject, disarticulated synthesis and analysis capabilities, or a correct but not always appropriate language, as well as a scholastic study of musical architecture analyze. It will be assessed as barely sufficient the performance of those students showing learning gaps, inappropriate language, lack of knowledge of the tools of architecture analyze. It will be assessed as insufficient the performance of those students showing learning gaps, inappropriate language, no orientation within the recommended bibliography and inability to analyze the architecture analyze.

Teaching tools

Students will be provided with the images projected in lesson and part of the bibliography

Links to further information


Office hours

See the website of Anna Rosellini